Comics

After Twilight: Fear of Rick Perry's Christian Texas

We first met Gary Watson of Roadster Productions when we were wandering the booths at Comicpalooza. What drew us over to his table when we had a world of comics, horror films and quidditch to choose from was the poster adorning his booth.

On it was the image of a clenched fist defiantly thrust upward. Tattooed along the inside of the wrist was a bar code, and below that the quote, "How do you fight a state that has God on its side?" In the background the Texas flag fluttered, but the Lone Star had been replaced with a crucifix. Needless to say, it got our attention.

Watson was promoting his short film After Twilight, the tale of a young librarian who joins the resistance movement against an evangelical Christian theocracy formed by a secessionist Texas. The film was finished in 2004, featuring production work from the always excellent Sophia Vassilakidis. Watson's day job involves cranking out film work for nonprofit organizations so the production values are much higher than your average indie film, and it certainly shows.

The world of After Twilight is a bitterly oppressed black and white image of our own beloved Houston. The secular laws we currently live under have been replaced with a nightmarish array of literal translations of rules from scripture, and dissenters are hauled away to re-education camps to be purified... if they survive, of course.

Underneath it all there is the struggle by the underground resistance. Their work is primarily the preservation of knowledge and art suppressed under the regime, particularly things like science books and literature like Harry Potter. What bothers Watson is how eerily the world he's envisioned is starting to mirror the world that we inhabit.

"We have a governor who has filled the board of education with as many creationists as he can, who hold giant prayer rallies," said Watson. "None of that was happening when I wrote out the film or when we shot it, but more and more it's like Rick Perry is using our work like some kind of guide."

Obviously we're quite a distance yet away from stoning adulterous women in the street... at least we hope so. However, Watson isn't worried so much about his specific personal apocalypse happening as he is about the gray area that happens before. The title of the film actually comes from a quote by Justice William O. Douglas. It reads...

"As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air -- however slight -- lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness."

For Watson, the fear that we may be entering the twilight is small, but there. However, he is quick to point out that After Twilight is not meant to be an anti-religious or an anti-Christian film. It is simply an expression of the logical extrapolation of extremism.

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Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner